Community is all we really need — it enriches our lives.



Nancy is a familiar face to many involved with Shelters of Saratoga. She sought shelter services in early 2020, just after the pandemic changed our lives. It was an uncertain time filled with fear. For Nancy, that fear was compounded because she didn’t have a home to stay safe in. Nancy’s time at our emergency shelter 3 years ago was only the beginning of her journey.

Nancy courageously shared her story in front of 200 community members at our One Fine Day luncheon on June 27. She received a standing ovation. Her story is interlaced with hope, and the community people often gain during their time with us.

At 57 years old, I finally like myself. I was given a second chance to become the person I knew I was – a good mother and grandmother, a reliable and trusted friend, and a beacon of hope for others.”

Nancy’s success is partly due to the challenges she has overcome. As a registered nurse, she felt fulfilled by her ability to help others. When an injury sidelined her nursing career, she lost that piece of her. The bottle became the vice that helped fill that void. It took many years for Nancy to understand that alcohol was destroying her, her family and everything she valued. She was not the role model she hoped she would be. She decided to get sober.

Alcohol didn’t cause Nancy’s homelessness.

Many years after her injury, she won her disability case. She received a settlement and began getting monthly benefits. Her earning potential was severely restricted because of her limited abilities. Disability just wasn’t enough to live on. Nancy made so many steps forward – sobriety, rebuilding relationships, and prioritizing what matters most to her – family. But for the three steps she took forward, homelessness set her back one.

Nancy never gave up hope.

She lost her apartment, moved her belongings into storage, and lived in her car until a bed opened at our emergency shelter on Walworth Street in May 2020. The objective of this program is to provide pathways to housing, but it’s so much more to those who successfully navigate the program. It’s a community of support.

“I still remember the call I made to SOS. The staff member told me to hold on to hope, and they’d get me on the right path.”

Nancy’s path didn’t lead only to housing, but also happiness and contentment. It was a time full of hope and light, despite uncertainty and darkness. She gained confidence and a sense of community. 

Nancy eventually moved into our supportive housing program. The apartment is affordable and offers added support Nancy needs to stay sober and financially sound. Nancy is often found pitching in – just as she’s done from the first day she walked in seeking help for herself. She’s cooked and distributed food to folks on the streets, washed bedding for Code Blue, and held peer support meetings. She jumps at any opportunity she can to give back.

When we reached out to Nancy to see if she’d be interested in sharing her story at our annual fundraiser, there was no hesitation. “Yes, I’d love to, whatever you need!” 

That’s who Nancy is. A selfless woman, mother, grandmother, and friend. She’s a wonderful listener, and supports people facing similar circumstances. She’s a talented baker, painter, and crafter. She’s truly a delightful person to be around, and always a reliable source for a hug in good times and bad.

“I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have a place to go three years ago. I don’t know what would have happened. Community is all we really need — it enriches our lives.”

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